Have a European adventure:... our 2015 Europe brochure
Are you considering spending more time in Europe? Our new brochure offers a world of possibilities for exploring this culturally rich region – here, we tell you more about it.
Douro Valley, Portugal
Most travellers have spent at least a little time exploring the delights of continental Europe – but that doesn't mean there's nothing left to discover. With the release of our new Europe 2015 brochure, we spoke to Cox & Kings' product manager Michael Fleetwood to find out more about next year's travel possibilities – and to get a few personal recommendations.
At a glance: What's new
For 2015, we've maintained our comprehensive offering of more than 30 European destinations, and added some fabulous river cruises, which are brand new for next year.
River cruising is a wonderful way to explore Europe, allowing you to discover a variety of fascinating destinations while travelling in luxury. All river cruises include breakfast, lunch and dinner, with ships offering beautiful accommodation and excellent amenities for a comfortable and unforgettable trip.
Our three new river cruise itineraries will whisk you to:
- The Douro River: This charming river cruise will allow you to explore the Douro Valley, visiting Portuguese destinations such as Porto, as well as Spanish cities like Salamanca. It is a comprehensive tour of the Douro region and includes a variety of activities to help you get under its skin, such as wine tasting.
- The Rhine: Cruising along the Rhine will take you from Amsterdam to wonderful destinations such as Cologne and Rudesheim, among many others.
- The Danube: This itinerary will see you cruise through a number of countries, including Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia, which makes it absolutely ideal for travellers hoping to visit a wide variety of destinations during their voyage.
What we're most excited about
With such a comprehensive brochure, there is a lot to be excited about, but Michael managed to cite one tour that he is particularly enthusiastic about – the Classical Greece itinerary. This fabulous seven-day tour shines a light on the wonders of mainland Greece – an area that Michael describes as rather underrated, noting that travellers often to choose to explore the Greek islands instead.
However, mainland Greece has a wealth of attractions for those drawn to culture and heritage. The Classical Greece tour travels around Delphi, Epidaurus, Kalambaka and Athens, giving you the opportunity to do everything from discover ancient ruins to browse amazing artefacts in prestigious museums.
Michael also noted that visiting these destinations is particularly exciting because they have so much history, but are very relevant to the present as well. Olympia, for example, was the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games, while Delphi was once known as the centre of the universe – and the many archaeological wonders of Athens need no introduction.
Brochure highlights for first-time visitors
While few people will be complete newcomers to travelling in Europe, you may not have explored it in much depth. Should that be the case, Michael recommends touring Romania – a destination that many people have heard of, but know little about.
What makes this tour stands out, he explained, is that it's so comprehensive. Indeed, it is possible to visit the majority of the main tourist attractions here in just eight or nine days, as the nation is small – whereas for larger European countries would require three to four weeks, or a number of shorter tours.
Fagaras Castle, Romania
Brochure highlights for return visitors
If you have travelled extensively around Europe already, Michael recommended the Ancient Wonders of Southern Turkey itinerary, which will give you a totally different perspective on the country. Indeed, this part of Turkey has a distinctly Middle Eastern feel that contrasts destinations such as Istanbul and the Aegean coast.
Starting in the middle of the nation, the Anatolian heartlands, the tour then travels east and takes you into the country's desert landscapes. This is where you will discover a host of fascinating historical and religious sites, such as the Well of St Paul in Tarsus and the 10th-century Eskigumus monastery in Adana. Perhaps the most awe-inspiring of all the sights on this tour is Gobekli Tepe, the origins of which stretch back some 12,000 years; indeed, it is believed to be the world's oldest temple - and is particularly breathtaking when considering the UK's Stonehenge is roughly 3,000 years old.
You can also take a trip to Mardin, which is one of the trendiest destinations among Turkish travellers at the moment – but much lesser known among international holidaymakers – who come to admire the stunning local architecture.
Off the beaten track in Europe
Getting off the beaten track in Europe is not easy, as so many destinations are well travelled. However, it's definitely possible. For those who wish to go somewhere that little bit different and avoid the tourist crowds, Michael recommends Greenland.
Approximately a two-hour flight from Iceland to the east coast, or a three-hour flight to the west, Greenland sees very little tourism from the UK – but it's an absolutely fascinating destination that certainly merits exploration. The chief reasons to come here are to admire the stunning glacial scenery and spot wildlife. Venturing out in boats to see whales in ice-berg strewn fjords and spot any number beautiful sea birds gliding through the air is a wonderful experience.
And, while wildlife spotting and the stunning scenery are some of main attractions, there is also the cultural side of the country – which dates back to the original Viking settlers and Greenlandic inuits, all the way through to the arrival of the Danish missionaries. Interestingly, the Vikings settled here for roughly 500 years before vanishing, and you can explore their ruined settlements sprinkled with old churches and the like during your stay.
Typically, you would visit Greenland in conjunction with another destination, such as Iceland, where you can do a spot of whale watching and perhaps see the spectacular Northern Lights – if you visit at the right time of year and have a little luck.
Brochure highlights: Value
In terms of value for money, Michael noted that the Classic Russia tour is absolutely fantastic value. Whisking you through Russia by train, this package offers you the chance to spend three nights in Moscow and four in St Petersburg, with a comprehensive sightseeing programme in each.
What's more, as well as visiting remarkable sites such as the Kremlin, the Hermitage and Peterhof Palace, you will stay in some truly wonderful hotels. The National Hotel in Moscow, for example, is one of the city's oldest hotels and is located in an unparalleled location on Red Square. History lovers will be intrigued to learn that Lenin even had a suite here. In St Petersburg, you can stay in Taleon Imperial – a Leading Hotels of the World Member and former palace with a fantastically central location.
Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg
Cox & Kings' European favourite
Michael named Albania as his favourite destination in the 2015 Europe brochure, describing it as the "quirky, odd one out of Europe". And indeed, its communist past and fascinating mix of Roman ruins and Ottoman architecture certainly make it stand out from other European nations.
Michael also noted its affordability, explaining that he felt it was quite similar to Greece in terms of the kinds of attractions it possesses – but at approximately a quarter of the price. Immensely friendly people who are always interested in visitors complete Michael's fondness for Albania.
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- Tags: Albania, Austria, Cox & Kings Staff, Culture & History, Europe, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey